Interpersonal relationships are one of the most important things we have, and our ability to form meaningful relationships, rest largely on your interpersonal communication competencies (DeVito, pg. 196). The advantages of relationships often outweigh the disadvantages but to form more meaningful relationships, to keep them, or even to dissolve them and maintain emotional health at the end of a relationship; one must be able to evaluate the stages of relationships and their importance (Hamlett).
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A good way to understand the study of interpersonal relationships is to take a look at your own relationships, whether past, present or even the type of relationship you want in your future. Focusing on your own relationships such as friendships, romantic relationships, your family, or your work relationships can explain a lot about whether your relationships fail or succeed. Major advantages of having interpersonal relationships are:
- You lessen your loneliness (DeVito pg. 196). When you feel like someone cares or loves you and is there to protect you, you feel less lonely.
- Gaining a self-knowledge and having the self esteem you need through contact with others helps you to see things through different perspectives. Placing yourself in different roles can strengthen the availability of so many relationships will help you to focus on viewing yourself and your relationship.
- Healthy interpersonal relationships also help enhance self-esteem and self-worth (DeVito pg. 196). Having that one friend or that one romantic partner will make you feel more worthy and more desirable. DeVito states that research shows that without interpersonal relationships, you are more likely to become depressed and by becoming depressed, interpersonal relationships can contribute to physical illness (DeVito pg, 197). Not only can you become depressed, but relationships can also contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, or lack of physical exercise (DeVito pg. 197).
- With having those “good friends”, you’re able to maximize your pleasure and they help to minimize your pain. For example, when losing a job, your friends are supposed to make you feel less hurt when unexpected confrontations arrive. Friends are there to help and will make you feel better whether it be good news or bad news.
- The last advantage of interpersonal relationships, human contact is one of the best ways to secure the intellectual, physical and emotional stimulation that we all go through (DeVito pg. 197). DeVito also states that even having an imaginary friend is better than not having a friend at all.
The advantages all seem to have a good effect on a person who is involved with interpersonal relationships and understanding all of these things will help us to determine how far our relationships will go.
The disadvantages of Interpersonal relationships are expressed through what most people would consider to be “disadvantages”.
- People conclude that close relationships puts pressure on you to reveal yourself and to expose your vulnerabilities (DeVito pg. 197). I find this to be true, especially with friendships because you can know and find out so much about a person and then as soon as the relationship deteriorates, the relationship may backfire and all of your personal information becomes a weakness that is used against you.
- Close relationships may increase your obligations towards others. This means that your time becomes their time as well. Not only your time is felt obligated but even possibly your financial obligations become shared and you may not be too excited about sharing your time or your finances.
- While building close relationships, other relationships you may have may start to feel abandon. I believe this to be true, especially if your building a romantic relationship that may require a lot more of your time and your friends are not as supportive or understanding. Your friendships can become abandoned. Relationships take a lot of both, time and energy, and you have to be willing to sacrifice which relationships are more important or even better, learn to balance the two different relationships to make sure everyone is happy.
- The closer your relationships, the more emotionally difficult they are to dissolve (DeVito pg. 197). It is whole lot harder to rid a relationship that you have put forth time, emotional strength, and even financial stability. This can cause depression or distress that some people dislike to face. The last disadvantage of having interpersonal relationships is that
- Your partner may break your heart (DeVito pg. 197). After all of the time and different things that you could possible put forth to make a relationship work, it could all backfire and against all pleas and promises your whole life could change. If you care a great deal, you’re likely to experience a great hurt; if you care less, the hurt will be less (DeVito pg. 197).
To better understand interpersonal relationships, you must also understand the relationship stages. The six stages are the significant stages you may go through as you try to achieve your relationship goals (DeVito pg. 198). The six stages which are Contact, Involvement, Intimacy, Repair, Deterioration and Dissolution are use for all types of relationships including friendships, love relationships and even online relationships. Contact is the first stage that includes perceptual contact. Perceptual contact allows you to see what the person looks like, what they sound like and even what they smell like (DeVito pg. 199). After perceptual contact there is interactional contact in which you are interacting with the person. This type of contact can be nonverbal by exchanging winks and smiles and also allows the person to learn information about the other person. DeVito states, that it is during this stage, that your may initiate interaction and engage in invitational communication (DeVito pg. 199). The involvement stage is the second stage in which a sense of mutuality, of being connected, develops (DeVito pg. 199). During this stage your empathizing more with each other and you are committing to getting to know the person at an even better level than the contact stage. It is during this intimacy stage that you begin to express your feelings and thoughts by being honest. Your communication with each other becomes more personal. Within this stage you have the interpersonal commitment phase which allows you to commit yourselves to each other in a more “private” way and then there is the social bonding phase that allows commitment that is made more publically. It is also during the intimacy stage the two becomes a unit, a couple or a pair.
The deterioration stage is the stage where the bonds begin to become weakened. When the reasons for coming together are no longer present or things may take a drastic change, then the relationships deteriorates (DeVito pg. 202). The repair stages has different phases that it considers; the first phase is the intrapersonal repair. This is when you analyze what exactly went wrong and you may consider ways of solving your differences. During the interpersonal repair, you may discuss the problems of your relationship and what can be done to fix whatever the problems. DeVito states that you can look at the strategies for repairing a relationship in terms of the word REPAIR (DeVito pg. 203). To break down the word REPAIR, it means to Recognize the problem, Engage in productive conflict resolution, Pose possible solutions, Affirm each other, Integrate solutions into your life and Risk. The last stage in the dissolution stage, the stage is the cutting off of the bonds that tie you together, whether in a friendship or romantic relationship. DeVito gives some suggestions for dealing with dissolution. He suggest that you should break the loneliness-depression cycle, take time out, bolster self-esteem, seek the support or others and to avoid repeating negative patterns (DeVito pg. 204).
Interpersonal relationships are something that we all as people have to and will experience. Professor Ralph Hamlett states that we must remember that all relationships are dynamic, meaning that they change (Hamlett). In order to accommodate these changes, we must all be aware of the change and how we are going to adapt.
DeVito, Joseph A., Interpersonal Messages: Communication and Relationship Skills,3rd ed. (Boston:Pearson, 2014).
RalphHamlett. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Oct. 2014.
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